Feeds

Foxconn allegedly hid underage workers from inspectors

Non-profit claims iPad-maker cheated in factory audit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Updated Apple faces increased pressure today after its manufacturing partner Foxconn was accused of using forced student labour and hiding underage workers during high-profile independent inspections last week. Foxconn also makes components for other manufacturers, but Apple is its most prominent customer.

The Register spoke to Debby Sze Wan Chan, a case worker at Hong Kong based non-profit Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM). The group has been tracking what is alleges are "involuntary labour practices" at Foxconn, which makes gear from iPads and iPhones to games consoles.

She claimed that local governments in China "repay" Foxconn’s decision to locate in their area by shipping off vocational students to work in the factories as interns in order to help cope with the high turnover of employees.

She alleged to The Register that these students are sent to these factories even if their chosen subjects bear no relation to the work they will be "forced" to undertake.

“We describe the internships as involuntary or forced labour because if they don't go to the factory they may not be able to graduate or they may need to drop out of their courses,” Chan told The Reg.

She added that according to conversations with Foxconn workers, the recent high-profile inspection of the hardware giant’s Shenzhen factory by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) was flawed. She said her group had received information in the form of allegations that the company had prepared for it by hiding illegal workers.

“I heard from Foxconn workers that underage workers of 16-17 years old were not assigned any overtime work during the audits,” she said. “It’s obvious that Foxconn prepared for the audits, although the FLA said they were unannounced.”

Chan said she’d also heard that another worker had been given three breaks – as opposed to the usual one a day – in preparation for the FLA visit.

Mark Natkin, managing director of China-based tech consulting firm Marbridge Consulting, said he was unsurprised at the revelations.

“I have trouble imagining an inspection, probably in any country, where management wouldn't tuck potential issues safely out of view,” he told The Reg.

“To get a truly clear picture of day-to-day operating conditions, agencies need to do not only a factory inspection, but also figure out a way to talk to a significant number of employees in an off-site environment where each employee interviewed feels confident he or she can speak candidly without fear of losing his/her job or of other reprisals.”

FLA under fire

Chan also reckons the FLA is “not really independent”, given that it is funded by large corporates, including – most recently – Apple, and its board comprises representatives of these firms.

FLA boss Auret van Heerden was criticised in some quarters for giving Foxconn a glowing appraisal after an initial inspection last week, although he dismissed suggestions of any favouritism towards Cupertino.

In any case, the time for inspections has already passed, according to SACOM’s Chan.

“It’s now time for Apple to ask ‘how do we handle the labour rights violations?’ instead of commissioning the FLA,” she said. “It had 229 audits last year so it appears Apple is well informed of the problems – excessive overtime, harsh management practices and exposure to dangerous chemicals – so it doesn’t need to come across as innocent.”

She said that although conditions for workers making products for other tech giants including Nokia and HP are hardly better, Apple has made itself a target thanks to publishing and publicising a more rigorous code of conduct for suppliers.

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
APPLE FAILS to ditch class action suit over ebook PRICE-FIX fiasco
Do not pass go, do cough (up to) $840m in damages
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.